Grab & Go Family Kits
Family kits serve the entire family and provide an extra layer of items that can make having to leave home a bit easier to manage. These kits are unique in that they provide your family with an opportunity to plan for a more extended emergency when you don’t know when you'll be returning home or perhaps where you'll even go.
Grab & Go
These kits serve double duty because they can be used at home during emergencies as well. But having them packed and ready to go means you can take both the individual grab & go bags and family kits with you on the road should you need to evacuate or leave your home for any reason. Learn more about how to pack the family kits and make them part of your emergency evacuation plan. Learn more about the grab list, for items that can't be packed away for any reason, but still need to be included.
Shelter & Warmth Kit
Envision a scenario when you are asked to leave your home but staying at a motel or with family, for whatever reason, is not an option. Creating a shelter and warmth kit, a space for your family to sleep and stay warm, adds a layer of security and comfort. You may not end up needing this kit but having it with you on the road, just in case, gives you that option. Who wants to sleep in a car?
- a tent that is large enough for your family and pets
- tent accesories including plastic ground cover & stakes
- sleeping bags & camping pillows
- small folding camp chairs if desired
Tip: Before you pack this tent away, practice putting it up so there are no surprises. This gives you time to work out all of the bugs and to get familiar with the tent and accesories. If you already have one you can use, put it up and see if there is anything that needs to be fixed or issues that need to be addressed.
Food & Cooking Kit
- freeze-dried food - #10 cans are best
- canned foods
- boxed foods
- hot chocolate
- powdered beverage to mix with water
NOTE: You can simply add more items already contained in your Grab & Go Bags. Here are some ready to eat foods.
- can opener - manual
- portable stove with fuel
- pot and pan
- cooking utensil set
- mess kit for each family member
- disposable plates, bowls, cups, utensils
- small foldable table for prep surface
- spray dish soap
- small wash bin
- paper towels
NOTE: A can opener has also been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag.
- ferro rod as backup
- tinder if you're burning wood
NOTE: Lighter/matches have also been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag.
Inside tent lighting options
- battery-powered lantern: hanging, adjustable lumen output
- string lighting
- light sticks
Outside tent lighting options
- lantern (either fuel or battery-powered with adjustable lumen output)
- string lighting
NOTE: A high-powered LED flashlight has been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag.
Tip: Solar-powered string lights are a great addition to a light kit, especially in a camp setting. They can be taken out during the day to charge in the sun and brought into the tent for evening use. The on/off switch allows you to turn the lights off when you're ready to sleep.
This kit will allow you to set up a private area for sanitiaton purposes right outside your tent.
- toilet paper
- liners & twist ties
- super sorb or other absorbent
- privacy tent
Tip: If you have prepared a sanitation kit for home emergency use, and have chosen one of the two portable methods, then you have already completed this kit. If you pack it right, you can take it with you on the road. Adding a privacy tent, as suggested above, will make it more comfortable.
- water jug with a spigot faucet
- measuring cup
- heating element
- bar or liquid soap
- power towels with dispenser
- catch basin
- solar shower
- shampoo / conditioner
- privacy tent
Here is a list of emergency equipment options that could benefit you and your family during an emergency both at home and on the road. You can read more about some of these options below and see what options are right for you.
- NOAA weather radio
- Citizens Band 2-way radio
- FRS walkie-talkies
- Ham radio
NOTE: An AM/FM or crank-radio and city map have been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag.
NOAA Weather Radio
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates a radio service called NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR). This is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. Using tone alerts, this service broadcasts official weather warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24/7. It’s a good idea to include a NOAA radio in your communications kit.
Citizens Band Radio
A CB radio, or Citizen’s Band radio, allows for communication over short distances using low-powered transmitters and receivers. No license is needed to operate a CB radio. Mobile units can reach distances of 15 miles and stationary units can reach 30 miles. Hand-held units have a shorter range, usually 3/4 to 2 miles.
FRS (Family Radio Service) walkie-talkies provide a means of short-range communication when cell phone use may not be available. Your emergency plan would split walkie-talkies amongst family or friends that live within the operational range of roughly 1/3 to 1 mile under normal conditions, with a line of sight blocked by a few buildings or trees. If this range limitation is acceptable, FRS walkie-talkies can provide a reliable alternative means of communication.
HAM radio is a type of amateur radio that can be a useful tool before, during, and after emergencies. The equipment can be very powerful and is generally used by individuals who want to communicate long distances via short-wave frequencies. You must be licensed to operate and talk, but not to listen, which can be very informative. To obtain a license, one must pass an examination on radio theory, regulations, and operating practices. There are many resources available to help individuals prepare for the exam, including books, online courses, and local amateur radio clubs.
Tip: Learn more about receiving official alerts and warnings from local, state, and federal authorities.
- work gloves
- pocket knife
- screw driver
- nylon utility cord
- small foldable shovel
- 50-foot paracord
- hatchet or axe
- wire cutters
- extra flashlight or headlamp
NOTE: A multi-use utility tool has been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag.
First Aid Kit
Take a look at this list of options you may want to add to your family's first aid kit. While it is a long list, it's not conclusive. See if you can think of other items your family may want to have included.
- bulb suction
- sterile trauma sponge
- antibiotic ointment and/or antiseptic wipes or spray
- cotton balls / swabs
- suture needles with string
- instant cold compress
- heat wraps for neck & back
- hot water bottle (rubber)
- blood clotting: QuikClot® or Celox™
- burn ointment
- calamine or aloe lotion
- bite and sting kit
- insect repellent
- fine point tweezers
- fine needle for splinter removal
- hydrocortisone cream
- potassium iodide (KIO4) tablets
- non-latex gloves
- thermometer (non-glass)
- alcohol wipes
- tissue pack
- space blanket
- toothache remedies like Save-a-Tooth®
- safety pins
- paper bag for hyperventilation
- plastic bags for disposal
- petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- full-spectrum antibiotic, Tamiflu
- electrolyte tablets
- syrup of ipecac
- activated charcoal
NOTE: The following items have been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag's smaller first aid kit: adhesive bandages (various sizes), sterile gauze (in rolls and pads - various sizes), medical tape, blunt scissors, and KN95 & N95 face masks.
OTC Drug Options
- saline eye solution
- saline nose spray
- oxymetazoline nose spray (3-day use max)
- UTI & other meds like Azo, Monistat, etc.
- include dosage spoons & droppers
NOTE: Fever/pain reducers have been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag.
Tips: Your first aid container can be a medical bag, back-pack, or tackle box. Keep an inventory and watch expiration dates. Keep an extra pair of reading glasses and a small flashlight at the top of the kit so you can quickly get what you need. Include some type of first aid manual that covers general first aid principles.
If you run out of the water you have taken with you upon evacuation and more bottled water is unavailable where you are, your family needs to be prepared to find, treat, and store natural sources of water until you can get back home.
You can find natural water sources available to you within your geographical location by checking out this database. The water kit, if packed sufficiently, should give you what you need to treat water, then contain the water for use. Be advised that not all types of water contamination can be treated for use. Learn more about water contamination and what is needed to treat each pathogen.
- water quality test kits
- ability to draw water from a source - either a bucket or previously used water containers
- purifying agents (see below)
- collapsible water containers with spigot – use for freshly treated water (this way you will know which water to use - be careful to distinguish between what needs to be treated and water that has been treated - this method should work for this purpose)
- include drinking cups
- pan for boiling**
- heating device with fuel**
TWO NOTES: 1. Chlorine Dioxide tablets have been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag - ** 2. pan for boiling, heating device, and fuel are not needed if you are creating a family food & cooking kit as it would be redundant.
The battery kit system keeps all one-time-use batteries stored in one sturdy container made specifically for batteries. Once stocked, it is for both home and emergency use. This keeps the oldest batteries in front and next in line for use. When you take one or more, simply buy replacements and restock the container by placing the newest batteries in the back.
Store this kit with your other family kits for easy access if you need to grab & go. Then, when you need a battery for daily use, they'll be waiting for you there. Just remember to replace what you take out.
Storage conditions are important. The battery kit must be stored in a dry environment and at room temperature or slightly cooler if possible. Avoid storing this kit in an area that experiences extreme temperature swings that range from hot to below freezing.
If you’d like to include rechargeable batteries, place them in a plastic bag. Both battery types can be included to make up your battery kit.
- You do NOT need to store lots of extra batteries in your grab & go bags and family kits then worry about expiration dates and rotations. Rather, all batteries are portioned out on an as-needed basis once you are evacuated.
- If you choose to make this system part of your evacuation plan, never omit batteries entirely from go bags. There should always be at least one battery per device.
- If you choose not to utilize the battery kit system, then stock your grab & go bags and family kits with the needed number of extra batteries or have all extra batteries placed in an adult's bag.
Tip: There are many different sizes and styles of battery storage and organizer cases. Do a search on Amazon to see what will work for you and your family. Learn more about batteries for emergency use.
There are two good options for solar-powered charging. The two categories differ in watt range and price. So, which is best? That depends on what you want to charge, how long you want it to take for the device to charge, and how much you want to spend. In short, the higher the wattage, the faster the charging speed and the larger the device that can be charged. Choose what works for your needs and budget.
Portable Solar Charger
- A solar charger is a device that uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, which is then used to charge batteries or power electronic devices.
- They often include a built-in battery that can store the electricity generated by the solar panel, allowing you to charge your devices even when the sun isn’t shining.
- Portable solar chargers come in a range of watt capacities. Basic chargers offer less than 5 watts of power whereas the most powerful offers just over 100 watts. Solar chargers are generally less expensive, with prices ranging from around $20 for a basic model to $300 or more for a high-end model.
NOTE: Portable solar charger has already been assigned to 1 adult's grab & go bag. This description is left here so you can see the difference between a solar charger and a portable power station. The family kit is meant to include an upgrade to the portable power station described next.
Portable Power Station with solar charging capability
- These devices are designed to provide a reliable source of power for your electronic devices while you are off the grid and are recharged via electrical outlets or solar panels.
- Many models are compatible with external solar panels that can be purchased separately. Some manufacturers offer bundles that include both the power station and a compatible solar panel, while others sell the two items separately.
- Portable power stations come in a range of wattage capacities. Smaller units offer around 100 watts of power to larger units outputting over 2,000 watts of power. The average cost of a portable power station is between $200 to $1,000, however, there are also models available at lower or higher price points.
- Note: Some portable power stations cannot recharge via solar panels and can only be recharged using a wall outlet or other power source. This will not help you on the road. It is important to check the specifications of a portable power station before purchasing it.
Giving both kids and adults something to do while the family is away from home can be a very nice distraction.
Ideas for kid
- playing cards
- board games
- stuffed animals
- activity books
- word searches
- crossword puzzles
- notepad, paper, pens, crayons, washable markers
Ideas for Adults
- notepad and pen
- knitting, crocheting, and cross stitching
Tip: Of course, these are just ideas and suggestions. Can you think of other things that you and other family members would appreciate?
Grab & Go
We can’t always pack away the things we need to take with us in an evacuation. Examples are medication stored in the refrigerator or the dog's kennel. To avoid the last-minute hassle of trying to remember what these items are, creating and storing a family grab list will do the thinking for you. Once you write down the items you can’t leave home without, this list can be used as an easy reference and checklist to make sure you don't.
Steps for creating a grab list
- Have all family members write down what they are unable to pack in their individual grab & go bags. This list will be kept at the top of each bag.
- Have an adult write down what items are unable to be packed away with pet or family kits.
- Assign an adult to make sure these list items for individual grab & go bags, pet, and family kits are then added to a master list known as the grab list. This list will be used as a backup and double verification that these items have been gathered and added before the family walks out the door.
- Place the list onto a clipboard with an attached pen and store this on top of or safely nearby packed bags and kits.
Best Storage Location
Keep the family kits and grab & go bags together in one place where they can easily be found and grabbed on your way out. Store in a cool, dry environment.
Tips for Rotation
- Check your bags twice per year
- Check expiration dates on any applicable items and rotate when necessary
- Rotate food at 12 months